In their Global Threat Assessment, carried out in September 2012, Ipsos Public Affairs discovered that 73 per cent of people in the G20 felt that there was a threat their personal data could be compromised while online. For the last three years, this figure has remained substantially higher than for any other man-made or natural hazard or disaster. It is a sign of the importance that people of every nation place on maintaining the integrity of their private lives in a world of big data.
In the UK, businesses have barely closed the confidence gap during the last year: the majority of the British public still lacks confidence in the way businesses collect, handle, use and share data. As a consequence, European legislators are poised to step in with sweeping new data protection powers.
So what does the future hold?
One of the big opportunities of using data is in predicting behaviour, not just needs. Businesses are getting better at recognising which customers need which products and services. With more granular data, they can learn whether those customers are likely to respond positively or negatively to targeted marketing offers or other types of contact. Indeed, customer engagement strategies could be designed specifically to boost confidence by presenting information on privacy and data protection practices so people in low confidence segments are more likely to want their data to be used.
Businesses can thus compete for custom not only on the quality and relevance of their services and products, but also on how they engage with customers about their data. Far from being a quaint twentieth-century notion, the Data Nation survey shows that the latent demand for privacy has never been greater. In turn, regulators can benefit from a more transparent marketplace where privacy becomes an important market force and a new currency for growth.
Two strategies for gaining competitive advantage through privacy